How to improve electronics manufacturing product quality

By staff

In a perfect world, quality is built into the product and there should be no need, or very little need, for technology OEM and contract manufacturing companies to address product quality issues throughout various phases of the product life cycle of the product being manufactured.

Meanwhile, until that day comes, below is a reasonably good way for companies to develop teams to root cause, isolate and escalate, and ultimately, work to resolve manufactured product quality issues and product defects.

Meetings should take place once per week for manufactured products programs that have weekly production and once per month for product programs with less frequent production.

Assembling teams, objectives, and responsibilities
Although one could argue for a more extensive list of objectives, for a start, any assembling of teams by organizations committed to addressing manufactured product quality issues should begin by at least focusing on a.) improving the product manufacturing yields of products and b.) reducing the percentage rate of dead on arrival (DOA) units that leave the contract manufacturer.

A cross-functional team of committed individuals having both responsibility and authority for driving product quality for any particular manufactured product program should be assembled carefully from the proper functional groups.

Below are key participants for any product defect reduction team. Its important participants are assembled from proper functional disciplines.

Program management
The contract manufacturing product program manager must be responsible for initiating and facilitating the meeting. The program manager must take responsibility for maintaining the meeting agenda and action item list. Program management must also be ultimately responsible for the overall success or failure of any efforts to reduce defects. The buck stops here. Period.

Program management responsibilities also include driving OEM (or contract manufacturing) product design issues, that adversely impact OEM customer yields, to the OEM customer’s supply base engineers and new product introduction (NPI) engineers for resolution.

Program management should also publish and distribute meeting minutes to all team members. Preferably, within 24 hours after the meeting takes place.


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Test engineering and process engineering
Manufactured product yield data should be reviewed in advance of all meetings by test and process engineering which must also attend the meetings.

The role of test and process engineering is to identify primary product test and process yield issues and to initiate actions to address each issue. Test and process engineering must take full responsibility for measuring the success or failure of activities assigned, and actions taken, to improve product yield including documenting all manufactured product process changes in any related manufacturing product documents.

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Production management
It is the responsibility of production management to implement process changes identified and proposed by engineering and to communicate product yields to engineering on a timely basis.

Additional members of these meetings should also include a member of the factory general manager’s staff to aid meeting facilitation, additional representatives as needed from other functional areas such as component engineering and quality and, meeting members may also include OEM customer representatives such as engineering and quality to also help drive manufactured product yields and quality.

Meeting guiding principles
1. Beginning with the start of each calendar quarter, the team will determine two or three manufactured product yield points to focus on for the various products in any one product program. Any yield points determined must be compared by putting actual yields against product target yields which can be determined jointly by the OEM customer and the contract manufacturer. All of the above must be agreed upon by all team members and documented regularly.

2. Engineering must provide all product yield data to team members a minimum of 24 hours before meetings take place.

3. Product DOA failures are to be discussed in meetings only for the purpose of reducing DOA rates and this should be done only after the root cause of the DOA has been determined.

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